SOS Online Backup Review: Mac OS X Online Cloud Backup
|Sign up for SOS Online Backup|
|Packed with new features, includes 5 computers and local backup; nice interface, savvy mobile apps, and social media backup. Mac installation is more difficult and no free trial|
[Editor's Note: SOS Online Backup is offering NextAdvisor visitors an exclusive discount of 50% off the 50 GB plan. No coupon code is necessary, just follow any SOS Online Backup signup link from NextAdvisor to take advantage of the offer.]
Now Mac users can enjoy the new features and perks of SOS Online Backup. SOS not only backs up your desktop and online files, it also boasts the ability to backup your social life and mobile life as well with its new Facebook and mobile backup apps. Though most of the features that SOS offers to PC users still applies to the Mac version, there are some differences that will be mentioned throughout the review.
Installation and Backup
First, make sure that you are running Mac OSX version 10.6 or higher, it will not work on anything lower than that. Though the installation process seems easy enough, it was very frustrating and did not install on any of our first tries. The installation wizard kept telling us that there is an error with the installation without explaining what the particular problem is. We eventually had to turn to support, which SOS does really well. The live chat representatives answer your request right away and pay very close attention to the problem. However, to solve our installation error problem, the support consultant had to actually request a remote access session and take control of our computer. They eventually fixed the problem and told us that in order to install SOS onto another Mac, we have to backup the installation zip file, and access it through the web interface on another computer. We discovered that this problem, which has to do with a type of permission, does not occur with all Mac users, but has definitely happened before. If this doesn't happen, you should be able to download SOS onto all of your Macs (limit of 5) through the traditional download link on their site.
Other than this frustrating installation error, SOS for Mac is a great feature-packed service just like its PC counterpart. Your first backup session may take a while, depending on how much data you're backing up. After that, backups will be much faster. Clicking the settings button will show you backup scheduling options (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly). Additionally, you can select certain files to back up every time SOS detects a change. This is the most secure way to go, and it's convenient for working on the same document across multiple computers. You can also choose what specific files and file types you want SOS to backup as well as review the backup reports. Additionally, the Mac version offers a "smart scanner", which finds important files that SOS thinks should be protected.
SOS' security regimen has triple encryption (once before upload, once on upload, and once upon storage) and it is just about the best out there. SOS actually keeps redundant copies of your files in a separate location, for the ultimate in fail-safe backup. Since customer passwords are required to unencrypt files, they're safe from prying eyes.
Multiple Computer Backup
We are particularly excited about SOS Online Backup because we get frequent user questions about which services will back up multiple computers and external hard drives, and also which ones can also back up to an external hard drive. SOS handles all of these. Users can back up a total of five computers without the need for additional upgrades. SOS can also be set up to back up your data simultaneously to an external hard drive. This gives you the best of both worlds: the speed of local backup and the security of remote backup (in case something happens to both your Mac and your external drive).
One great feature of online backup is that it keeps multiple versions of files you're working on. While many online backup services limit the number of iterations, or the length of time versions are kept, SOS keeps an unlimited number of file versions, one for each time the file has been changed and then backed up. This acts like a virtual time machine, allowing you to go back into your online archive and retrieve previously saved versions of files. It's like having an unlimited "undo" button. This is also useful for files that are mistakenly deleted.
Online File Access and Sharing Features
SOS Online Backup offers an intuitive online interface for accessing files on-the-go. Simply log on securely via the website, and you'll see your entire backup set, cleanly broken out by file type and the computers you have backed up. You can browse for specific files or initiate a full recover. Additionally, you can select certain files for sharing with others. For instance, if you have a video file you want to share with someone, simply select it for sharing, and enter the email address of the person to whom you'd like to send it. That person will receive an email with a link that leads directly to a download. It's one of the easiest and, in many ways most secure, file-sharing methods we've come across. A word of warning: make sure there are no spaces when you type "your friend's name", or just use a first name. Unfortunately, SOS has no file syncing features like MyPCBackup or SugarSync. To make up for that, one of our favorite new features is the ability to stream your archived library of songs and videos, straight from your computer and onto your SOS mobile app.
As with many other online backup services, SOS Online Backup has a mobile app. iPhone as well as Android users can access and share their files from anywhere. The iPhone interface is user-friendly; however, it opens everything in Safari, so users on iPhones that don't support multi-tasking will find themselves having to reload the app. Also, the app doesn't automatically log you out when you're done using it, so make sure to press the back button until you are logged out, or set a password on your iPhone to make sure nobody can access your files without permission. The Android app is equally intuitive, but unfortunately there is no option for backing up your Android's contacts, photos, and other information like on the iPhone. One thing we liked better on the Android app is the ability to open files within the interface instead of being redirected to a web browser. As mentioned before, the streaming option is very useful for listening to your computer's favorite tunes on the go. Note that we were not able to open and stream our computer's m4a files on the iPhone.
Social Media Backup
SOS is one of the only backup services that offers social media backup of users' Facebook accounts. It will backup your wall, albums, messages, friends, and videos. Setup is easy — just make sure you link this application to your existing SOS account. SOS will ask your permission to access your Facebook information, as well as permission to randomly post on your wall. We found this permission to post photos and statuses to be strange, but this may just be a general permission agreement because we did not experience such posting on our behalf. The initial backup may take a while depending on how much data you have. After it's done, you will be able to access all of your Facebook data through the application.
After you finish your free 30-day trial, the 50 GB plan annual plan is a great value at the cost of $39.99 for a limited time, which comes out to $3.33 per month. The usual price is $79.95 per year. If you need more space, their other discounts include $49.99 per year for 100 GB and $74.99 per year for 150 GB. Remember, you can spread these plans across up to 5 computers.
In regard to HIPAA compliance: Online backup services cannot legally state that they are officially HIPAA compliant. However, SOS Online Backup contains all of the security features to protect data that is transmitted to and from their servers. SOS follows strict guidelines to meet factors that go into HIPAA compliance. If you want to know what HIPAA is, please visit our FAQ page.
This online backup service is highly configurable and handles many different tasks. Though SOS has a somewhat high price per megabyte, some users may find all of the features including unlimited versioning, file streaming, cloud storage, intuitive mobile apps, and many more to be worth the cost. The customer support is also very helpful and the live chat is lightning fast!
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